Short story 35

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by inayat, Nov 28, 2021.

  1. inayat

    inayat Head Game Master Moderator

    Sep 12, 2016
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    Ok, let me pull myself together. I'm recording this message to be my last will and testament. Perhaps my final confession. I hope I still have enough blood in me to get through it all. The irony is that this was going to be my last job. The end of my illustrious career as an assassin. As it turns out, it seems it will be the end afterall.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm no saint. I'm not that movie hero killer for hire that only takes the assignments that would thin the world's population of awful people. If the money was good, I'd take the job. No questions asked. My only exception was my refusal to take the life of a child, though I did put down an expecting mother or two. Corrupt, wealthy men do enjoy their mistresses. If only they would learn to pull out, once in a while. Of course, those jobs were easy, and it's amazing how much these pricks would pay to hide their sins from the world.

    I was never religious. I didn't believe there was a higher power waiting to hear my account of the terrible things I had done. I'd love to say my conscience was never burdened, but that would be a lie. I'm not inhuman. Well, not entirely.

    This was going to be the big one. Ten million to take this guy out, and he definitely is a terrible human being. Eldritch Thawne is a very wealthy man. The major problem is that he was also severely agoraphobic. He would handle all of his business from his veritable fortress. A multilevel mansion that stood alone on a few hundred acres of land. Nothing or nobody around, aside from his ample security and servants. He kept himself protected, that's for sure.

    He is not well known to the public, but he is a monster, though nothing could ever be proved. Over the course of his sixty five years in this world, he had been linked with everything from drug cartels and arms trading, to human trafficking and child pornography. These were almost facts to those who knew his name, though there had never been enough to convict or even arrest him. Some suspected he had made some sort of deal with the devil in his youth to maintain his privacy, wealth and ability to remain untouchable.

    Oh yes, he was a vile, despicable man, but nobody could get close enough to end him. Many had tried, and they had all failed. Some would never be heard from again, according to rumor. When I was contacted about this assignment, I can't say I wasn't a little apprehensive. Sure, I did not believe many of the rumors, especially those claiming crossroads deals under the moonlight, but I could not deny that he would not be an easy mark.

    I had built up quite the little nest egg over the years, and did not need one last job, but when they offered me five million before any negotiation, I couldn't resist seeing how high I could get them to go. I asked for twenty, just to test the waters. Big negative on that one, but I hadn't lost interest yet. We went back and forth for some time until we settled on ten. That's not the kind of money you turn down, but it's not the kind of money that comes without results.

    The highest prize I had ever won from a job was two million. It took a lot of work and a lot of years to earn the reputation that would afford such interest from clients, mind you. I think my first job paid about five hundred bucks. That wasn't a kill job, but roughing people up would be a lot more labor intensive in the long run. Something I would grow to appreciate so much more as my career progressed. I think I was about nineteen or so at the time. I was fresh out of boot camp and always ready for a fight. So, when some guy offered me five hundred to beat the shit out of his ex-girlfriend's current boyfriend, I wasn't about to turn that down.

    Short story long, having graduated to qualifying for a ten mill job, it seemed a good one to retire on. One last assignment. Once more into the breach, as it were. There's a big lesson to be learned here, boys and girls. If something sounds too good to be true, it very fucking much is.

    I need to pick up the pace. The tourniquet is not stopping the flow of blood as much as I'd like. Sure, I'd like to not be bleeding at all, but that's not happening. I don't know how strong this door is, but it seems to be holding up for now. Truthfully, I don't know why I'm bothering at this point. I'm a goner. I know it. I do need to get all of this out, though. Surprisingly I still have internet service, and maybe I can get this sent out before I bleed dry, or before they get to me. God, I hope I bleed out. I can't face them again. I've only seen a fraction of what they're capable of.

    It's not like I can run from them now. I'm down to two options now. Fade away in this room, or face them. The door feels pretty solid. Hopefully they won't get in. If they do, I'll cut the belt off of the stump that used to be my leg. That's what I'll do. I know all too well how quickly an artery bleeds. I've never been on this side of the equation before, but it's fast. I always told myself it was painless too, but that turns out to be another one of those lies I convinced myself to be true.

    Christ, I'm scared. Focus, Jim, focus!

    This place really is a fortress, but not in the way I assumed. Breaching the electric fence wasn't a problem, neither was sneaking around the security guards. They appeared well trained enough, but they were not as well versed in stealth as I. The knowledge acquired from my predecessors' attempts told me that it would not be as simple as a long distance kill shot. Bulletproof windows were quite commonplace with these wealthy targets. I had scoped out the place for a good two months before putting a plan together, so the exterior would not be an issue. I mapped out the surveillance system and would be easily able to avoid them. Standard stuff, really.

    It surprised me he didn't have more outdoor precautions in place, but some have a tendency to put too much faith in their security crew. People are easy to avoid, and even easier to put down should any prove more difficult to get around. I took out a few of them on the way in. Quick and painless; I would tell myself. Necks don't break as easily in reality as they do in the movies, but a well trained knife can carve itself into just the right spot to silence someone before they even feel the first drop of blood.

    I prefer a simple OTF pocket knife. Mine is quiet enough to eject the blade before meeting my prey, and can be neatly clipped back onto my belt after the work is done. Go straight for the throat or the back of the head, just below the skull, where it meets the spine. Out like a light and none the wiser. Slide them out of view before the camera works it's way around, and you're golden. Cover the mouth and leave the blade in until you get the body stashed. You don't want a blood trail connecting the dots for anyone else who happens by. It takes some practice to really get it down, but I don't even hesitate anymore. It's all muscle memory, like playing the guitar. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

    I made my way to one of the windows on the far end of the house and jimmied it open. Another thing that turned out to be surprisingly easy. Too good to be true, right? I rolled in and closed the window behind me, while keeping an eye to my rear to make sure I was clear of prying eyes. The room I was in looked to be some sort of guest bedroom.

    I had verified over my weeks of scoping the place out that no guests were staying here. Thawne appeared to be a very private person, and rarely had any company other than his security or serving staff. It would be puzzling why he even has a fully furnished guest room were it not for the fact that rich people are often more concerned with appearances than actualities. Maybe he used to have a budding social life before folks grew wise to his nefarious activities. It could be that he was an eccentric with more money to burn than to put to good use. Perhaps none of that mattered since this was to be his last night on earth. That was the plan, anyway.

    I had found it difficult to pinpoint exactly where Thawne would be in the house. Judging by what I had been able to make out through my binoculars, no lights stayed on after ten pm. The house was so large, I couldn't narrow down where his bedroom was either, so it was going to be a bit of a touch and go from here on. He had a healthy amount of security, but most of them would stay outdoors, and his indoor staff would leave around nine. They have their own living quarters on the property, but it's a guest house to the rear of the building. I was left to assume that by this time of night, only my mark and maybe two or three bodyguards were left inside the house. It shouldn't be too hard to narrow down his location, right?

    Christ, it hurts. I don't understand why I still feel pain in my foot! I didn't waste time trying to retrieve it after it came off. Just dragged myself away from them as fast as I could. They were fighting over my leg when I looked back, before sliding into this damn room. Maybe they settled on dividing it into bite size snacks for each of them. Jesus! I need to stay on track. My mind is slipping away. I can feel it. Swimming. My head is swimming. Perhaps some sort of infection is coursing Its way through my system. I'm sure they don't exactly practice oral hygiene. Rats and bats carry rabies. Who knows what these things have crusted to their teeth.

    Goddamnit! Losing track again. Keep it together. Just a little while longer.

    Before I go any further, I want it all to go to Nicola. You remember her, right? I want her to have the house, the money and everything. The account in Switzerland, Bill; that's all yours. You're my only friend, man. Just make sure everything else goes to her. She still works at the same ballet academy in Belfast. We haven't talked in years, but I always kept track of her. I even entertained the idea of approaching her after I was done with it all. After this one last job. Just do that for me, would you, Bill?

    Ok. Back on track. Shake it off. You're not done yet, marine.

    I slipped my backpack off and retrieved a small camera on a bendable stem. I'm sure you've seen them in spy movies and the like. I slid it neatly under the door and was able to take in the surroundings through my cellphone. Everything was in darkness, but the infrared feature made easy work of that. I coiled it back up and slipped it in one of my vest pockets. I grabbed my night vision goggles from my pack, along with my pistol and suppressor, two magazines and my shoulder holster. Sure, I could have equipped them before making my way into the building, but should any of the security have inadvertently spotted me, they would be far less likely to shoot on sight a guy with a backpack than a guy with a silenced gun strapped to his chest.

    I keep plenty of goodies in my trusty pack. Everything from a grappling hook to a pound of C4. Everything a growing boy needs. I tucked the bag under the bed against the back wall for now, and planned to retrieve it on my way out. Shouldn't need anything other than my gun and ammunition for the work ahead.

    Keep it light. Move quickly. In and out. Simple as that.

    I considered ruling out the ground floor first. Given the fact there was an elevator, I was sure my target would not be located on the first level. All the security and cameras and such, he wasn't going to be on the first. No way. I knew how these rich, paranoid marks thought. I'd make my way to the stairs, silently and stealthily. Guys like me live in the dark. We feel at home in it. I'd traced many targets through the dark and gritty places of the world. Some wealthy prick's mansion shouldn't prove to be a problem.

    I opened the door slowly and looked to the left and right to ensure all was still calm. I left the room and closed the door, holding the knob to release silently after it was shut. I made my way through the hallway adding no pressure to my footsteps until I was sure the floor would not creak. Rarely did these mansions have squeaky floors, but always best to take precautions. Rooms were on either side of me, but those would not be my destination. This was a top floor guy. To my reckoning; judging by the view from outside, this was a four floor building. I planned to check out the elevator to make sure before attempting the stairs, though.

    I located the elevator gate just across from the first flight of stairs. The ironwork fence was shut, but not locked. I slid it softly to the side and took a glance inside. As expected, floors one through four were listed on the inside, along with three more buttons that appeared to require a key. That fact that it was a regular, old fashioned keyhole was strange enough for such a 'high class' individual, but no stranger than the text beside each button:

    Axis 1, axis 2 and axis 3*

    Perhaps the elevator was of the Willy Wonka variety, and could go horizontally as well as vertically? That would not explain the third, though. I had no time to theorize about the nature of the eccentrics of the world, so I closed the gate once more, and headed for the stairs. I crept up the steps and stopped a couple from the top to take a look and make sure all was clear. I saw nothing to either side. I decided to make for the next flight before anyone could be the wiser.

    As I crossed the top step to the landing of the second floor, something felt strange. It almost felt as if it took some effort to breach. Like the air became thicker for a moment. I set foot on the second floor and felt a head rush that almost took me to the floor. I steadied myself for a moment until I heard footsteps to my right. Not human foot falls, but closer to a dog? If that was a dog coming my way, it was one hell of a big one. I rushed the steps to my left and headed for the third floor. I hate dogs. Dogs are unpredictable and a lot harder to put down quietly.

    Wasting no time, I hit the third floor landing and made for the next stairway. It occured to me that I had not come across any of the security I was sure these walls contained. Maybe I had just seen the dog's silhouettes through my binoculars while casing this place? Shadows in the dark, perhaps. It made no difference, though. Dogs or guards were not my targets. I reached the stairs that led to the fourth floor and had that similar head rush feeling as I hit the first step. It was like there was some sort of invisible wall that I had to push through.

    One more slight oddity about this, was that the footsteps of the pursuing animal fell silent as soon as I crossed onto the stairway. I would not let any of these things distract me. All that remained was taking out the mark and getting the hell out of here. Lemon squeezy. Right?

    They're scraping at the door now. I fear they will make it in before I get through this. I'm feeling my second wind now, at least. I've lost a lot of blood and it still hurts so damn much, but maybe adrenaline has kicked in and recharged my batteries some. Perhaps it's the calm before the storm, but I'm prepared to fight if they get in. I don't know if I can kill them. I don't even know what they are, for that matter. Bullets didn't make a difference. Didn't even phase them. My knife, though. I think I've always been more skilled with a blade than a firearm. It's more convenient to put my assignments down from a distance, but some required a little more up close and personal, as it were.

    Just keep breathing, Jimbo.

    I think you may be the only person who knows my real name anymore, Bill. Well, Nicola too. She was before this became a full time gig, though. Before Richard Nightingale was my moniker. James Barclay never sounded like an intimidating enough title for a contract killer. Nobody would assign a hit to a guy who sounded more like an accountant than a reaper, of sorts. Maybe it just sounded better in my head. Maybe I just wanted to keep a single part of me that wasn't stained in blood.

    It's all hitting me now, Bill. I never took the time to let it all really sink in. All that I've done. All those families that were left in ruin. All of the innocent people, led to an early grave to make a point. Christ. I really am a wretched piece of shit. It's only fitting I meet my end this way.

    No time for this shit. No time left. Running out, now. The hour groweth late. It hurts to laugh. I need to stop saying stupid shit that makes me laugh. Just sounded so dramatic, you know?

    Maybe delirium is kicking in. Focus. Keep focus, now.

    The fourth floor. That's when things went sideways.

    There wasn't much to this floor, just a short hallway with the elevator door to my left and another about fifteen feet in front of me. No other rooms on either side of me here. This rich asshole made himself a penthouse in his own house. Fucking figures. I quietly walked the hall to the door, assuming I'd find it locked, but no. One turn of the knob and the door was ajar.

    Poof! I turned a door into a jar!

    I'm a magician now!

    I bet I'd kill in Vegas!

    Stop it, Jim! Goddamn it, focus!

    The room was huge. Expensive art on the walls, statues, all sorts of exquisite furniture. Everything an agoraphobic recluse could need. It even had a full kitchen, though I highly doubted he ever cooked his own meal. He had a well stocked bar, also. Can't say it didn't tempt me, but eyes on the prize. I crept through the labyrinth of fine art and elegant furnishings until I reached one last wall and one last door. Again, the door opened with little effort and not a creak or squeaky hinge in sight.

    It was a large and cozy bedroom with Thawne himself sitting upright in his larger than king sized bed reading a book. He didn't even acknowledge me when I walked into the room. He had a thin face, with short, jet black hair, perfectly parted on the left, and a neatly trimmed, pencil thin moustache. He almost looked harmless in his blue and white, striped pajamas. He had appeared far more pompous and intimidating in the images I was provided.

    I walked to the foot of the bed with my suppressed pistol in hand and raised it towards his head.

    "Nothing to say?" I asked, honestly quite puzzled, why he was not making the remotest attempt to flee or otherwise hault my attack.

    Nothing. Not a word.

    I aimed for the center of his forehead and pulled the trigger twice. Two bullets made impact, not in his head, but in the wall behind him. They seemed to pass right through him. I squeezed two more shots, followed by a third. Nothing. He didn't even twitch.

    I stood for a moment and glanced around the room for any evidence of a holographic projector or something of the like. Sure, it sounded like a Scooby Doo sort of rationalization, but nothing else was adding up.

    Thawne pulled a bookmark from the nightstand beside his bed, tucked it in his book, and turned to investigate the fresh holes in his wall.

    "I'm going to have to get that patched," he said while turning his gaze towards me.

    The thing is, he didn't actually make eye contact. He did not appear to even see me there at the foot of his bed. It felt like a blind man looking in the direction of someone making conversation. A look of acknowledgement, but not perception.

    "You will find, whoever you are, that you will be unable to touch me while my security precautions are active," he said to the unseen ghost of me.

    "What the hell is this, Thawne!" I demanded.

    My words didn't distract his blank stare or cause any other type of reaction.

    "Anyone who crosses my second floor landing will be immediately transferred to the second axis whilst I remain in the third, you see." He continued.

    "This is the only floor that can access the third. Once placed in the second, you may perceive the third, but no more than that."

    I was dumbfounded to say the least.

    "There are many planes of existence. I have unlocked the secrets to manipulating some of them." He said, a small smile forming on his face.

    "It was no small task, mind you. I only tell you this to ease your curious mind before you die. A tuppence of respect for making it this far, at least."

    "What the fuck are you talking about!?' I shouted, becoming frustrated and a little intimidated, truth be told.

    He glanced around the room for a moment before he said,

    "There really is no sense in trying to communicate with me, if that is what you're doing. I cannot witness events from other planes, though I believe you should be hearing my voice."

    I started backing away from the bed, darting my eyes across the room. This did not make any sense to me, but if it were true, perhaps I could access whatever side of the equation he was in through the elevator. I just needed the key. It may take some searching, but if all that stands in my way of finishing this job was a few dogs and some magic tricks, it's nothing I couldn't handle.

    "You're not the first to attempt this. I assume you know that?" He half asked, half stated.

    "There are ways for an intruder to find their way to where I am, but what stands in your way is unstoppable, I'm afraid." He laughed condescendingly.

    "I have trapped some of those who dwell between the planes. Rarely do they feast, and never shall they stop."

    "I release them from their cages at night, to hunt those who may trespass. They enjoy the game. They like to toy with their prey, which is the only reason you have made it this far." He continued as his eyes finally connected with my own.

    "You will not escape alive." He finished.

    He picked up his book again and opened it back up, laying his bookmark back on the table beside his bed. He looked down and his eyes appeared to be tracing the text on the pages before he said,

    "Goodbye now," without so much as glancing back up.

    No longer worried about watching my step or remaining silent, I turned to leave the room in a hurry. I wasn't sure I bought what the old man was selling, but I still didn't have a way to fulfill my obligation. As I made for the door, I saw a set of keys laying on a table beside the exit. I went to grab them and my hand passed right through them, along with the table they were sitting upon. It would seem that little was going my way.

    I swung the door open and sprinted out of the room. Just for giggles and shits, I tried to knock over some of the statues during my exit but, predictably, I was unable to make contact. To hell with the labyrinth of expensive shit, I may as well just run straight. It was surreal to pass through items which had previously appeared to be obstacles, but it made the trip a lot swiffer.

    I reached the final door before the hallway to the stairs and swung it open. The hallway remained empty, and I still could not hear any more footfalls on the floor beneath me. I started down the steps, slowly. I reached the bottom of the stairway, where it met the third floor and leaned forward to glance around the corner. My head felt detached from my body as it passed through the unseen gate before a burning pain tore its way across the side of the face.

    I tumbled back to the steps. Blood trickled from the right side of my face onto my shoulder. Something had split my flesh in two seamless strips from right under my eye to the bottom of my jaw. Were it not for my goggles, I may have lost an eye. My face was on fire from the burning, split tissue. I couldn't see what had assaulted me, and I wasn't about to peer around the corner again. I pulled my small camera from the pouch on my vest and poked it across the opening to the floor below. I couldn't believe what I saw on the screen of my phone. My attacker was there, and it was not a dog. Not at all.

    It stood around six feet tall on its four legs, each of which ended in a two fingered hand with dual claws. They were long and thick and came to a fine point. The limbs were all the same length and heavily muscled. The musculature was similar to a human structure, but the skin was dark and glossy, as far as I could tell through my night vision camera setting anyway.

    It had no hair across its body and its spine had sharp points that had torn through its own skin. It's head had human features, though it had an elongated snout and a mouth full of maybe hundreds of thin, needle-like teeth. The almost human button nose on the end of its snout looked almost comical. Wide and darkened appeared as though they were staring at me while the beast paced back and forth. It seemed unable to walk onto the steps, which was my only saving grace right now. I imagine that was to protect the owner of this house from its own horrors.

    I coiled the camera around my wrist, and pulled my gun from it's holster once more. I outstretched my arm with the extended camera breaching the exit. I fired two shots into the thing, while holding my phone in the other hand to ensure I made contact. The bullets passed through the barrier and penetrated the creature's left shoulder, but It didn't even flinch! I stared on while the wounds sealed themselves shut before my eyes. There was looking to be little chance of me getting past the creature, so I made my way back up the stairway.

    I got back to the fourth floor and opened the elevator gate, hoping I could use it to get back to the bottom floor. It didn't take long to discover that no power was running to it. I could only assume that it was shut down for the night as nobody should have reason to access it while the lord of the manor slept. I was surprised; however, to see an access panel on the ceiling of the lift. I started to head to the labyrinth of furniture to grab a chair to be able to reach the hatch before I remembered I couldn't actually touch the damn thing.

    The elevator wasn't wide, so I managed to place a leg on each side to hoist myself up. I threw the panel open and grabbed onto the roof to pull my body through. The shaft was not spacious at all, leaving barely any room around the lift itself. I saw no evidence of any sort of cable or pulley system, leaving me no idea how this thing would even operate. It was clear that I would not be able to use this method to get out of here.

    Not only did I desperately hope to escape this maddening place, but I still had no idea how I was going to finish the job I was hired to do. The people who had hired me were no friends to those who could not complete their assigned task, and this was starting to appear a 'damned if I do and damned if I don't' sort of scenario. As much as I did not want to face whatever the hell that thing is at the foot of the stairs, I at least had somewhat of a fighting chance against it. A well aimed bullet from a far lesser paid assassin than myself was not an option I wanted to choose.

    If I could make it back down to the ground floor and out of this damned place, maybe I could scale the building and get to my mark from the outside. It was a loose plan, but it was a work in progress. I decided to just attempt to charge through. I know how fast dogs can be, and I've had to put a bullet in more than one over the years as I had no hope of outrunning them.

    I could only assume this four legged monstrosity would be equally as swift, and my bullets obviously had no effect on it. I hoped that it would have as much trouble accessing the stairs that led to the second floor as it seemed unable to pass to the fourth. I took one of my magazines out and emptied the bullets to store in one of my pockets as I crept down the stairs. About halfway down the flight, I tossed the clip against one of the walls that surrounded the stairs so it would ricochet in the other direction.

    I sprinted forwards, hearing the scampering footfalls chasing after my distraction, as I ran as fast as I could to the next stairway. I managed to make it close to the landing of the second floor when the creature came charging down behind me. Clearly this flight of stairs was no obstacle to it.

    I kept running and hoping I could outrun the freakish thing. I reached the bottom of the stairs and another two of the abominations came speeding towards me on my flank. I jerked my knife from my pocket and ejected the blade, swinging it towards the one on my left that would block my way to the next stairway. I slashed it across the face and it squealed as I leapt over it.

    When I hit the ground behind it, I twisted my foot, causing me to tumble. As I rolled to get back on my feet I felt indescribable pain as the creature that had chased me from the third floor pushed past the other one and latched it's jaws around my shin. I kicked it over and over with my other leg until I heard a gruesome tearing sound followed by a snap as the limb in the monster's mouth detached below my knee.

    I screamed more from the sound and shock than the pain. My heart was racing and my head was spinning so much that I seemed immune to any pain, but the sound of my own appendage being ripped from my body infused me with a fear I had never before experienced.

    While the other two beasts dove to fight over the prize my pursuer had just claimed, I slid myself back across the floor in a feeble attempt to get as far away from them as I could. They slashed and snapped their jaws at each other as they wrestled over my gushing leg. Dark blood sprayed the walls as I watched their flesh open to deep and gaping gashes which sealed themselves shut before another could shred through.

    I was shaking my head from side to side, muttering disbelief while my mind fought to focus on a single thought. That notion was escape, but my brain refused to allow reason to get through and I just kept pushing myself backwards with my one remaining leg.

    I finally gained enough clarity to reach for a latch protruding from a door beside me. I threw it open and slid inside, slamming it shut behind me. My fumbling fingers managed to turn the locking mechanism, before dragging the heavy table that was closest to the doorway. After that meager accomplishment, I whipped my belt off to form a makeshift tourniquet on my stump. Once I was sure the blood flow had ceased as much as it could without proper medical care, I gave into my spinning head and fell unconscious.

    I'm not sure how long I was out for, but I was awakened by those things scraping and pounding on the door. I had a substantial deep red puddle formed around me from my leaking stump, but the bleeding from my face seemed to have stopped. I felt nauseous and weak. All my strength may as well have spewed out of my severed leg and my head was still spinning with shock.

    That's where I am now. Still locked in this room in this goddamn house. It's a good sized room with furniture I can actually touch, so that's something. I'm running low on options, and I know it's only a matter of time before they get in. I'm not going to survive this. I have no illusions to the contrary anymore. I'm halfway tempted to just loosen the belt around my thigh and release my lifeblood before they can tear me to shreds. I just wish I could have taken Thawne with me.

    I am not a good person, nor have I ever even tried to convince myself otherwise, but he's a damn monster. I kill for money, but he seems to take pleasure in his wretched deeds. I'm sure money is a factor for him too, given his ridiculous wealth, but you don't do the awful shit he does without enjoying it.

    I've killed eighty seven people in my lifetime. I pretend it doesn't weigh on my conscience, but as much as I try to look away from my victims before they hit the floor, I still see their faces when I close my eyes. I deserve this end, I think. It's fitting that I die painfully and brutally. I know you knew what I did for a living, Bill, but I don't think I ever told you how many. You're my only real friend, and I hope you can still look back on fond memories after all of this.

    Just, please Bill. Please don't tell Nicola what I was. If she asks how I had such a nest egg to leave to her, just make something up. Just do that for me, Bill. I would say I'll see you on the other side, but if the stories are true, I don't think we're going to the same place. It's ok. I think it's ok. Just take care of yourself, brother.

    I couldn't do it. I couldn't just sit there and die, knowing that smug bastard was still breathing. I was just about to slide my blade behind the belt and let the last moments of my life stream out of my thigh when I noticed the window at the back of the room. The door was already splitting in several places and I knew a heavy table wasn't going to be enough to stop those fuckers from getting to me. The window naturally had a goddamn lock on it. Damn fingerprint lock, of all things. That paranoid prick. I fired a few rounds into the glass and even though it was bulletproof, it still provided enough damage for me to smash it the rest of the way with a table leg.

    I'm fading fast, but my adrenaline is pumping something serious. I pulled myself up through the window, cutting my hands up pretty good on the broken glass, but I managed to get through. I planned to lower myself down as much as I could before I let go, but the door finally split open and those things came hammering towards me.

    I dropped out the window and hit the ground hard. It knocked the wind out of me, but it didn't feel like it broke anything. I strangely felt like I could breathe easier now, though. I hadn't realized how thick the air had felt inside. I was still a little dazed when a couple of the security guys came running my way, but I still had enough awareness to plug them both before they got to me.

    I looked back up to the window I'd dropped from and I couldn't see any sign of those four legged fuckers. Maybe the window was similar to the fourth floor landing that they couldn't pass. I decided to make my way back to where I first entered. Hopefully my bag would still be there, as I had a little gift for my generous host. It took a good bit of work, had to drop a few more guards and lost a bit more blood on the way. They were sneaky bastards; even managed to pop me a couple of times before I even saw them.

    Luckily, they were not the best marksmen. I took one in my left shoulder and another to my one good leg. Hurts like hell, but I still landed kill shots on them both before they could fire off another. Prior to that little surprise, I had been hopping my way across the side of the building, but they forced me to drag myself the rest of the way. There are still more out there, but if this works, the damage will be done before any response gets here.

    I pulled myself back through the window, like I had before, and my bag was right where I left it. Let's see what a little C4 does to this little house of horrors. I set it up throughout the first floor. I'll be damned if I'm going back up to the second, but I wonder what happens to separated plains of reality when a big ass explosion goes off. Either way, if this doesn't take the house down, maybe it'll clear a path for those monsters to get to their master. That's what I'm rooting for, anyway.

    Bill, you take care of yourself. I never told you this, not out loud anyway. I love you, man. You were the best friend a piece of shit like me could ask for.

    See you around, brother.

    This was a transcript of a recording I received via email two weeks ago. At first, I thought my old friend was playing some sort of bizarre practical joke, but I have been unable to reach him.

    I did as he requested and reached out to Nicola. She was heartbroken to hear about his passing, but grateful for what he left her, as am I. I'm not sure if I believe everything he said in the messages he sent, but I hope he succeeded in that final act of self sacrifice.

    There was never any news coverage of his death, nor anything about this Thawne guy. Nothing involving a heavily guarded mansion being blown to smithereens or anything of the like either. Very few people knew Jim, and, aside from those who would request his services, I was the only one who even knew what he did for a living. I won't say James Barclay was a good man, but he was a good friend. I will definitely miss that crazy son of a bitch.

    Take all of this with a grain of salt, I suppose, but if everything he said was for real, I do have one concern: if the explosion did indeed break down the walls between realities, could those things be freely wandering among us now?

    On top of that, what else could have been hidden behind those walls?
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